Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell has said she will reveal which side she is supporting in the EU referendum later today (Friday, May 27) after hosting a major debate.
Speaking last night (May 26), Mrs Ansell said she wanted to stay undeclared in order to remain neutral while chairing the debate, but would reveal her views today.
The debate, held at the Congress Theatre and hosted by Mrs Ansell, saw speakers from both sides lay out their arguments on membership of the EU.
Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan and Checkatrade founder Kevin Byrne spoke in favour of leaving the EU, while Liberal Democrat peer Jonathan Marks and business chief David Sears spoke in favour of remaining. The panel was also joined by journalist and broadcaster Cole Morton, an undecided voter.
In a show-of-hands vote before the debate began, the majority of the audience indicated they planned to vote to leave on June 23.
In his opening remarks, Lord Marks said leaving the EU would have a huge impact on the UK’s economy and that he didn’t believe the UK would be able to get a new trade deal.
He said, “To do a trade deal with us, each member state would have to agree to it and that, just after we have kicked them in the teeth and with their best interests elsewhere, is unlikely.”
As he spoke, members of the audience shouted over his speech with cries of ‘rubbish’ and ‘liar’.
Mr Marks’ argument was also criticised by Vote Leave campaigner Daniel Hannan in his opening statement.
Mr Hannan said, “We heard the same arguments from the same people when debating whether to join the Euro. Not only were they wrong then, but what they said would happen to the pound happened to the Euro.”
Mr Hannan also said the EU restricted UK trade and the UK would be better off making all its own policy decisions.
After the opening remarks, the panel responded to a number of questions which had been submitted in advance by members of the audience.
The panel debated a range of topics including the economic impact of leaving and the effect the EU’s farming and fisheries policies have had on Eastbourne.
Kevin Byrne said the EU fisheries policy has had a huge negative impact on the British fishing industry.
Lord Marks said he acknowledged the fishing policy had an impact but said it had protected the industry from exhausting its supply.
The panel also answered questions on migration.
Mr Hannan said that by leaving the EU, the UK could have greater control over its borders and that even if the UK maintained freedom of movement, the pull factor of citizenship would be diminished.#
UPDATE 6pm: Caroline Ansell is expected to announce her position later this evening. More details to follow.
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